By: Dr. Scott R. Harden
Almost everyone wants straight, white teeth and an attractive smile. Patients with crooked teeth or discolored teeth often cover their mouth with their hand or simply refrain from showing their teeth at all when they smile.
Patients from 18 to 90 present to my office looking for answers on creating the smile they always wanted. This particular smile is of a senior that was very involved in the process and thrilled about her attractive new smile.
Why go through life without an attractive smile? There are choices that we make in life that are more time consuming and more costly than achieving a nice smile. Further, a nice smile will last you a lifetime, and adds confidence all along the way.
- Cosmetic procedures in dentistry include:
- Composite “white” Fillings
- Dental Whitening
- Composite Veneers
- Porcelain Veneers and All Ceramic Crowns
Composite “White” Fillings
The most common every day cosmetic procedure that is performed in dentistry today, is the replacement of amalgam “silver” fillings with white composite fillings. This is overlooked today as a cosmetic procedure simply because it has become a standard of dental care which is performed so routinely. When a patient comes in with old silver fillings that have decay present, there is nothing that looks more wonderful than seeing the conversion of silver fillings to the white composite fillings. It rejuvenates the entire appearance of the person’s teeth.
Whitening teeth is seemingly a basic procedure, now offered as an over-the-counter product or professionally by a dentist. A dental diagnosis to evaluate for gum disease or deep cavities is important because they could pose complications for the patient. For this reason, over-the-counter whitening systems are sold at much weaker concentrations of only 4%, providing 2 or 3 shades of improvement, and are therefore much less effective than professional concentrations. Professional Dental Whitening is designed for either take-home delivery in whitening trays at 10-15% and can get teeth 8 shades whiter, or as in-office delivery in 1-2 hours utilizing up to 35% getting teeth 12 -14 shades whiter.
Dental Whitening is very safe for you and your teeth, and is performed by carbamide peroxide. It works on the basis of oxygenation by attaching to proteins inside the pores of your teeth, classified as extrinsic stain, and removing them to result in white tooth enamel. Extrinsic stain is a cumulative effect from our diets of coffee, tea, food colorings, colas, and everyday items we eat, as well as smoking.
Tooth Whitening is ideal for a large majority of people, with enamel that demonstrates mild to moderate yellow or gray discoloration. Results for these patients are very satisfactory. Patients that present with a severe discoloration or simply want very white teeth, require more than basic tooth whitening, and possess the need for other cosmetic options as noted below.
Composite Veneers (also called “direct bonding” or just “bonding”) is the application of a very thin coating of white filling material, “composite”, bonded to the smile surfaces of your teeth. They have the advantage of being accomplished in one dental visit. Composite Veneers create dramatic changes in your smile, are often compared to receiving “instant orthodontics”, and can be used to close spaces between teeth, create an ideal appearance for poorly shaped or crooked teeth and for restoring broken or chipped teeth.
Porcelain Veneers are used to create that Hollywood smile. Porcelain Veneers are thin tooth-colored porcelain restorations (0.3mm) that are custom designed for the smile surface of your teeth and improve color, shape, function and overall appearance. Porcelain Veneers, typically considered a cosmetic procedure, are designed to be very conservative and require little if any tooth reduction. They dramatically improve your smile and appearance and provide you a great quality of life.
Porcelain Veneers treatment must follow carefully designed and scientifically integrated dental principles. Careful planning between the dentist and the lab with input from the patient on overall style, shape and color of their teeth means that happiness meets expectations.
Why wait for a smile you have always dreamed of? Make the step toward a whiter brighter smile that carries the balance of confidence and esthetics you will benefit from for years to come.